The incoherency of libertarian free will

Simpletruther

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.

zerinus

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.
Those are an arbitrarily selected set of options. You are not logically “ruling out” libertarian freewill. You are simply excluding it from your list of possibilities, your arbitrarily selected set of options, which does not logically “prove” anything. You are saying, “I don’t believe libertarian freewill exists, therefore I am going to exclude it from my set of options,” which is not a logical “proof” that it doesn’t exist.

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T

TomFL

Guest
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.
Did Adam have libertarian free will ?

Have you ever sinned as a christian ?

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Sketo

Well-known member
This was my understanding of it...

T

TomFL

Guest
This was my understanding of it...

Libertarian freedom is the ability to genuinely choose between a range of options, each of which is consistent with one’s nature.

Essential Ingredients of LFW​

To understand this concept examine its key ingredients. In the book The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism, J.P. Moreland offered four essentials of LFW which we must be cognizant:

1. P is a substance that has the active power to bring about e [in thought and/or action]. (P is an agent)
2. P exerted power as a first mover (an “originator”) to bring about e [in thought and/or action].
3. P had the categorical ability to refrain from exerting power to bring about e [nothing causally determines P to not think and/or act otherwise]
4. P acted for the sake of reasons, which serve as the final cause or teleological goal for which P acted.
That is to say, if these four propositions are true of P, then P possesses LFW. To keep things simple and “memorizable,” we can boil libertarian free will down to two essential ingredients. If one possesses LFW, then (at least occasionally) they have…

1- The ability to think and/or act otherwise.

2- No external deterministic causes.

Sketo

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

I agree with Johnathan Edwards on the problem of the will being self determined...

Edwards finds this argument both incoherent and subject to an infinite regress. He points out that for the will to determine itself is for the will to act. Thus the act of will whereby it determines a subsequent act must itself be determined by a preceding act of will or the will cannot properly be said to be self-determined. If libertarianism is to be maintained, every act of will that determines a consequent act is itself preceded by an act of will, and so on until one comes to a first act of will. But if this first act is determined by a preceding one, it is not itself the first act. If, on the other hand, this act is not determined by a previous act, it cannot be free since it is not self-determined. If the first act of volition is not itself determined by a preceding act of will, that so-called first act is not determined by the will and is thus not free.

Edwards’s point is that if the will chooses its choice or determines its own acts, it must be supposed to choose to choose this choice, and before that it would have to choose to choose to choose that choice, and so on ad infinitum. Therefore, the concept of freedom as self-determination either contradicts itself by positing an unchosen (i.e., non-self-determined) choice or shuts itself wholly out of the world by an infinite regress.

To avoid this conundrum, some libertarians argue that acts of will come to pass of themselves without any cause of any sort. They simply happen, spontaneously and inexplicably. But nothing is causeless, except the uncaused First Cause, God. To argue for volitional spontaneity would render all human choice random and haphazard, with no reason, intent, or motive accounting for its existence.

If human acts of will are not causally tethered to human character, on what grounds does one establish their ethical value? How may one be blamed or praised for an act of will in the causation of which neither he nor anything else had a part? Furthermore, how can one explain a diversity of effects from a monolithic no-cause? If there is no ground or cause for the existence of an effect, what accounts for the diversity of one effect from another? Why is an entity what it is and not otherwise if not because of the specific nature of the cause that produced it?

zerinus

Well-known member
I agree with Johnathan Edwards on the problem of the will being self determined...

Edwards finds this argument both incoherent and subject to an infinite regress. He points out that for the will to determine itself is for the will to act. Thus the act of will whereby it determines a subsequent act must itself be determined by a preceding act of will or the will cannot properly be said to be self-determined. ...
That is merely a statement. You are not demonstrating that it is a true statement. The idea that “the act of will whereby it determines a subsequent act must itself be determined by a preceding act of will” is not a self-evident truth. If it is true, it needs to be demonstrated that it is true, and you haven't demonstrated that it is true.

Our Lord's God

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

Determined? Or predetermined?

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.

Dizerner

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.

You don't reject the Trinity just because it's a logical paradox. It seems inconsistent of you. I wrote an explanation of free will in this other post:

Sketo

Well-known member
That is merely a statement. You are not demonstrating that it is a true statement. The idea that “the act of will whereby it determines a subsequent act must itself be determined by a preceding act of will” is not a self-evident truth. If it is true, it needs to be demonstrated that it is true, and you haven't demonstrated that it is true.

I noticed you did not demonstrate that it is not true therefore you have not demonstrated evidence against it.

So as it stands LFWism is both incoherent and subject to an infinite regress.

Edwards’s point is that if the will chooses its choice or determines its own acts, it must be supposed to choose to choose this choice, and before that it would have to choose to choose to choose that choice, and so on ad infinitum.

Therefore, the concept of freedom as self-determination either contradicts itself by positing an unchosen (i.e., non-self-determined) choice or shuts itself wholly out of the world by an infinite regress.

Dizerner

Well-known member
I noticed you did not demonstrate that it is not true therefore you have not demonstrated evidence against it.

So as it stands LFWism is both incoherent and subject to an infinite regress.

Edwards’s point is that if the will chooses its choice or determines its own acts, it must be supposed to choose to choose this choice, and before that it would have to choose to choose to choose that choice, and so on ad infinitum.

Therefore, the concept of freedom as self-determination either contradicts itself by positing an unchosen (i.e., non-self-determined) choice or shuts itself wholly out of the world by an infinite regress.

The same logic would apply to any freedom in God, yet it would seem an odd limitation if God were determined and couldn't do otherwise than what he does. Perhaps you would bite the bullet here and say God is determined too, I'm not sure.

The problem of the infinite regress is really a problem only stemming from definitions, but I do think free will has problems with the logic of it, this just wouldn't be how I would frame it. What ever is the "determiner" of the decision is by definition the motivation, so to seek another motivation is to violate the definition of the determiner. That is, if we posit a will needs a will, then we have violated what a will is. Edwards simply defines the will in a non-libertarian way and then declares it's a problem. Well, we don't define the will with the same parameters.

SovereignGrace

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.
If the will is truly free, then it will freely choose nothing.

Simpletruther

Well-known member
You don't reject the Trinity just because it's a logical paradox. It seems inconsistent of you. I wrote an explanation of free will in this other post:

That isn't the only reason I reject it. I have a different understanding of scriptures.

I read your essay. Thought the first half was a good primer. I disagree in the second half on the way to understand scripture.

Dizerner

Well-known member
Libertarian free will is presented as having three qualities:

1. Not being determined.

2. Not being random or arbitrary.

3. Not simply a combination of the two, which would be called probabilistic.

The problem is these are the only conceivable way to describe events. It is literally nonsensical talk to claim an action is none of these things.

At this point free willers will often invoke "influence" as a way to imagine choices not being totally determined yet not random.
This is really an unintended obfuscation of reality. An influence must cause someone or it did nothing. It might cause you to consider or want a choice for example. But obviously if you don't make that choice then another stronger influence ended up causing the choice.
It is the net sum of those influences that cause choices. If they didn't, then by definition there would have to be a random component in the mix.

Upon further reflection, I think you are conflated the definition of the word "determined." Because there are two ways you could see this.

LFW is not saying a choice is not determined, we are saying "what" determines the choice. The choice is determined by the free will of the agent or by something else. In both cases there is "something" determining the choice, so it's a false dichotomy. It is not whether the choice is determined but what is determining.

When in theological discussions we use the word "determination" we are using a shorthand for divine meticulous determination.

Dizerner

Well-known member
I disagree in the second half on the way to understand scripture.

Would you say that presuppositions are required to reinterpret something depicted as two viable alternatives into actually an unstated rule that there really was no other viable alternative?

Simpletruther

Well-known member
The same logic would apply to any freedom in God, yet it would seem an odd limitation if God were determined and couldn't do otherwise than what he does. Perhaps you would bite the bullet here and say God is determined too, I'm not sure.

The problem of the infinite regress is really a problem only stemming from definitions, but I do think free will has problems with the logic of it, this just wouldn't be how I would frame it. What ever is the "determiner" of the decision is by definition the motivation, so to seek another motivation is to violate the definition of the determiner. That is, if we posit a will needs a will, then we have violated what a will is. Edwards simply defines the will in a non-libertarian way and then declares it's a problem. Well, we don't define the will with the same parameters.
I would say God is not free to be other than who He is and his unchangeable purpose and nature.

If the determiner of a decision is a motivation. From whence did the motivation come? This only changes the semantics of the logical difficulty but it's still there in full form. Was the origin of the motivation random or determined? We are back to the only two options.

Simpletruther

Well-known member
Would you say that presuppositions are required to reinterpret something depicted as two viable alternatives into actually an unstated rule that there really was no other viable alternative?
Depends on what one means by viable.

Simpletruther

Well-known member
Did Adam have libertarian free will ?

Have you ever sinned as a christian ?

I don't think such a think exists and in fact it's nonsensical. I literally can of even grasp what it means nor can anyone else even if they think they can because it's an incoherent claim.

Yes I have sinned.

Yes it was determined, not random.

Dizerner

Well-known member
I would say God is not free to be other than who He is and his unchangeable purpose and nature.

If the determiner of a decision is a motivation. From whence did the motivation come? This only changes the semantics of the logical difficulty but it's still there in full form. Was the origin of the motivation random or determined? We are back to the only two options.

This presupposes motivations need a reason other than a will. There may be in instance where the reason is the will.

Now by saying that I am not denying different things can influence a choice to different degrees, but in the case of what we would call a real choice, the ultimate determiner is not determined by the influences even if they are factored in.

As an aside, I personally do believe free will is a supernatural paradox, but an extremely intuitive one. There were times I doubted it, but I think the Bible would be dishonest to present what normally reads a choice with a secret backstage overriding determinism. I will be honest though—I have seriously considered determinism might be true, and in the end, it was not logic that convinced me but a personal revelation. I think that must be how we really resolve all our beliefs. I was convinced for awhile that logic would always lead to truth, but now I consider that a bit prideful and presumptive. A truly humble man is willing to accept what seems to him a paradox, because he knows there are greater things than himself. The only counterargument to this is, well we have to assume God gave us what we need in ourselves, and use our mind responsibly. But Scriptures that tell us of his ways being higher than ours are something that don't sit naturally well with us. We like to know. I have found a deeper peace in letting go of some of the more mental aspects of my spiritual life and I feel assured it's a good thing.

Simpletruther

Well-known member
This presupposes motivations need a reason other than a will. There may be in instance where the reason is the will.

Now by saying that I am not denying different things can influence a choice to different degrees, but in the case of what we would call a real choice, the ultimate determiner is not determined by the influences even if they are factored in.

As an aside, I personally do believe free will is a supernatural paradox, but an extremely intuitive one. There were times I doubted it, but I think the Bible would be dishonest to present what normally reads a choice with a secret backstage overriding determinism. I will be honest though—I have seriously considered determinism might be true, and in the end, it was not logic that convinced me but a personal revelation. I think that must be how we really resolve all our beliefs. I was convinced for awhile that logic would always lead to truth, but now I consider that a bit prideful and presumptive. A truly humble man is willing to accept what seems to him a paradox, because he knows there are greater things than himself. The only counterargument to this is, well we have to assume God gave us what we need in ourselves, and use our mind responsibly. But Scriptures that tell us of his ways being higher than ours are something that don't sit naturally well with us. We like to know. I have found a deeper peace in letting go of some of the more mental aspects of my spiritual life and I feel assured it's a good thing.
Ok so the determiner isn't determined by the influences. So nothing determines the determiner. That means the decision was arbitrary(without reason) does it not?